Monday, May 07, 2012

Rhonda Farkota's 2005 Opinion piece

Below is a summary of a 2005 article by Rhonda Farkota about what needs to be done to fix maths education in Australia. Rhonda Farkota has done the research to pass judgment on this question. Her PhD thesis is available at the bottom of this page. Subsequent to her 2005 article she has published two books providing the materials required for basic maths education.

My question is: Has anything significantly changed since 2005?

Basic maths: the brutal reality by Rhonda Farkota (2005)
  1. Results show that maths education is failing at primary school level
  2. The problem is the way in which maths is taught, not the ability of our students
  3. Both student centred learning and teacher centred learning have their place in education
  4. But for the acquisition of basic mathematical skills, the research clearly shows that teacher-directed learning is better suited
  5. Yet almost every teacher-education program in Australian universities is based on a student-directed approach. Indeed, some academic advocates of student-directed learning reject the whole idea of teacher-directed instruction, arguing that mathematical ideas must be personally constructed by the students themselves
  6. This is nonsense: it’s totally unrealistic to expect children, unaided, to learn theories and concepts that have taken mathematicians millennia to put together
  7. There is a dire urgency for the academics of the education world to put less emphasis on the ideology they feel most comfortable with, and instead, to have a long hard look at the evidence
  8. Unfortunately, the teachers of today have neither the time nor the training to sit down and design complex maths curricula, and then go through a comprehensive evaluation process.
  9. Fortunately, there are already highly effective, research-based, teacher-directed programs out there, requiring no preparation and no mathematical expertise to implement

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